Radio mashups can cut network energy cost by half: Bell Labs research

  • Joint research project between Bell Labs, German R&D institutes, and Intel
  • Funded through Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy
Radio mashups can cut network energy cost by half: Bell Labs research

BELL Labs, the industrial research arm of Alcatel-Lucent, said that today’s ultra-broadband mobile networks can make significant energy savings and performance gains by deploying a mix of macro and small cell radio base stations.
The discovery is the result of a research project called IntelliSpektrum in which it collaborated with the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics, the Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institute, and Intel Mobile Communications GmbH, Bell Labs said in a statement.
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The project aimed to demonstrate how, even as mobile data traffic rises, and the number of devices connecting to a network increases, base stations can be dynamically adapted to better manage traffic loads and save energy without any adverse effects to end-user service quality.
“Our research is focused on making important contributions to fields that include energy, communication and mobility,” said Dr Vincenzo Carrubba, scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics.
“We intend to use the research findings to deliver improvements in communications that make life a little easier for many people,” he added.
The research report findings included:

  • Significant energy savings are possible in ‘heterogeneous’ (HetNet) mobile networks that comprise a mix of radio base stations;
  • Energy savings of more than 50% were seen in mobile networks with a high number of small cells compared to those comprised only of macro base stations;
  • HetNets are able to make more efficient use of infrastructure because they can better adapt to high- and low-load traffic situations; and
  • While the number of radio base stations in close proximity within today’s ultra-broadband networks can create a risk of Inter-cell interference (ICI) and degrade service quality, when interference coordination is employed it not only reduces the risk of ICI but also shows gains in energy and performance – throughput gains of 10% in downlink (when the base station connects to the mobile device) and more than 50% in uplink (when the mobile device connects to the base station) were seen.

“Findings from the [IntelliSpektrum] project underscore the critical importance of small cells and prove that by deploying a mix of base station radios, operators will see better energy efficiency and increased network performance – thereby improving their customers’ experience and increasing efficiency,” said Marcus Weldon, president of Bell Labs and chief technology officer of Alcatel-Lucent.
The IntelliSpektrum research project was funded through the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, Bell Labs said.
The ministry´s ‘IT2Green’ programme is targeted to develop technology to enable intelligent spectrum management and deliver energy-efficient and service-optimised access to flexible, hierarchical mobile networks.
The project concluded officially in September 2014 when the results were shared during a public workshop.
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